Lagos State Demolishes Shanties in Agege

Houses reduced to rubbles by buldozers to create channels for easy flow of water in a street in Agege, a Lagos suburb. Houses reduced to rubbles by buldozers to create channels for easy flow of water in a street in Agege, a Lagos suburb.

Oct 3rd, 2011 – To their owners, they are homes but the government views them as obstructions on drainage paths. Hence, such structures must give way, writes MIRIAM NDIKANWU

NO fewer than 25 houses built on drainage channels were yesterday demolished by the Lagos State Task Force on the Environment and Miscellaneous Offences.

The demolition was part of the  government’s promise to clear all the drainage path in the Centre of Excellence of all obstructions.

Mostly affected were scores of residents on Odejobi Street, Agege, a Lagos suburb. Bulldozers overran the shanties and illegal structures, which hitherto served  as their homes.

The homes were built along the rail line near the Abattoir.

Some residents, mostly the aged, were seen making frantic efforts to move their properties as the bulldozers roared to bring down the structures.

A resident, Nurudeen Rasaq, lamented the development which he said rendered many, especially the aged, homeless.

Rasaq, who confirmed that they had earlier been notified by the state authorities through abatement and demolition notices, complained that the enforcement team did not stick to the earlier arrangement.

His words: “When they notified us about the demolition, they said they will not pull down the entire structures, but only about six to eight metres will be affected. You can see that some of the property owners have already removed the roofs, but we were shocked when they came this (yesterday) morning and pulled down the entire structures. We don’t know what to do again.”

He said none of the victims benefited from the N50, 000 compensation which the government gave affected persons. “None of the landlords here received anything. The people that received money were tenants selling, and they were those that collected the forms when the government enumeration team visited. How much is even N50, 000? More so, most of the landlords were not aware of the form in the first place; some had left for their various places of work. We only got to know about the money when they came to inform us from Alausa,” he said.

A woman in her late 80’s, Mrs. Victoria Osho, whose home was demolished, was helped to a safe place by some women and youths, as she struggled to walk.

Mrs Osho, who spoke in Yoruba, said she was taken unawares as she had no clue about the demolition, until yesterday morning when the bulldozer arrived. According to her, she had been left with no alternative accommodation.

Another affected person at the railway extension, Freeman, an indigene of Kano State, said he was in Lagos to do business. He lamented the plight of the people, saying the government was not fair by demolishing structures that provide shelter for low income earners.

He said: “It is unfair that government is sending us away from here without providing alternative for us. We are law abiding citizens and we voted en masse for this government. The last time they came here to demolish our structures, our leaders went to discuss with them and thereafter they allowed us to stay. But here they are today sending us out in this manner as if we are criminals, where do they want us to go to now”, Freeman lamented.

But, the Chairman of the Lagos State Task Force on Environment and Other Special Offences, Mr Bayo Sulaimon, a Superintendent of Police, who led the demolition squad, said the directive to rid the area of shanties came from Governor Babatunde Fashola after the July 10 flood.

Suleimon said: “After the visit of the governor on July 11, properties sitting directly on the drainage channels were marked for demolition and the occupants were given a token to enable them relocate to other places. They were all duly informed about the demolition we came here to carry out.” 

 Suleimon said the place could be an easy hideout for criminals.

An official of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Adekunle Rufai, said a 10-metre extension on either side would be required to expand the canal through Odejobi Street.

He noted that the area had been prone to flood for years. He said: “If you have been tracing the history, you will notice that when it rained, the area will be submerged in flood for months. What the government is doing now is the permanent solution to the challenge.

“ So, some other structures on the other sides are being removed as well as those ones that are in very distressed state because it will not be good that after constructing the drainage channels, we will start experiencing building collapse.” by Daily Times